Monday, June 30, 2008

Copy Mattum Adithaal...

Really surprised to see this video [email link - thanks Chandru]. Kallai Mattum Kandaal..., the best song in Dasaavathaaram's soundtrack, seems like a rather straight lift from this song(never mind that this song seems to have lifted segments from Ace of Base's All That She Wants... too!). So Himesh got himself Tamil cinema's biggest movie and all he could deliver was a copy of an old Malayalam song? If he didn't mind copied tunes, Kamal could've gotten Deva for a lot less money!


There's the phrase 'chick-flick', that rolls rather nicely off the tongue, used to denote films targeted at women but I'm not sure there's an equivalent one for films made for the guys. The reason I'm looking for such a phrase is Wanted, a stylistic, action-packed, testosterone-driven rush of adrenaline. Its story, apparently based on a lesser-known comic book series, is silly no doubt but is rendered inconsequential and highly enjoyable through its stunning action and visual flair.

James McAvoy plays a young man with nothing going for him. His best friend is sleeping with his girlfriend while he is stuck in a dead-end job with the manager from hell. But his life takes an unexpected turn when a woman named Fox(Jolie) saves him from a killer. He soon learns about the Fraternity, a 1000-year-old society of assassins, which his father was a part of and that the man who tried to kill him was infact the man who killed his father.

From the scene where McAvoy smashes his keyboard into his friend's face - with a fantastic visual send-off - the movie is a non-stop thrill ride. Action sequences - like the train ride Jolie and McAvoy take - are bursts of energy while McAvoy's training sessions are bloody and visceral. The movie is definitely violent but the violence has been picturized in a way that is exhilarating rather than repulsive. In that aspect, the movie's director reminded me of John Woo in the way he has captured violence in a rather artistic fashion.

While the story of a society of assassins is acceptable, the movie becomes a little silly with its depiction of the society's workings, especially the way its targets are selected. But it soon makes us forget all that with a spectacular third act. It starts off with a fantastic train crash after which a plot point - that reminds us of one the most famous twists in Hollywood movie history in concept and execution - sets up a worthy climax. The sequence where McAvoy runs through the building shooting down the bad guys and picking up discarded guns would probably rank as one of the most well-choreographed action sequences in recent memory.

Jolie looks every inch the movie star and its no surprise that she looks perfectly comfortable holding and firing guns. McAvoy, in a turn very different from the timid fawn in Narnia, is believable as an action star. Morgan Freeman is dignified as usual though he gets a chance to loosen up a bit towards the end.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Whole Truth

David Baldacci usually pens novels that are set in Washington D.C, the hotseat of power and politics, and revolve around over-the-top, borderline-implausible plots that are nevertheless fast-paced and engrossing. In The Whole Truth, he expands his canvas with a global thriller that spreads its wings far beyond Washington. Though the plot is simplistic compared to his other novels, the fast pace seen in those is intact and makes this another easily readable novel from Baldacci.

Baldacci started two series - one with the Camel Club and another with a pair of secret agents - in quick succession but The Whole Truth is a stand-alone thriller. Creel is the head of Ares Corporation, a defense contractor. Faced with declining sales, he seeks the help of a 'Perception Management' firm to manufacture a new Cold War - a scenario where the countries are in a constant state of fear and keep buying arms to make sure they are always ready for war. Shaw, who works for a secret agency, and Katie James, a journalist down on her luck, are drawn into Creel's plan for a new world order.

Baldacci usually creates elaborate plots with a multitude of characters but gives us a rather simple plot here. With an all-powerful villain with limitless power and money and grandiose visions for the future, the story is barely believable as an artificial conflict is created with a couple of videos and interviews. Things happen too fast to be credible and though Baldacci employs enough technical jargon like blogs and newsgroups and video sites, the ploys described and their worldwide repercussions are too cinematic to be believable. So the story is interesting but never feels real.

Those hard-hearted, almost-superhuman heroes are always likeable and easy to root for and Shaw here is one such hero. His time with Anna and his hopes about his future reveal his human side while his action sequences are visceral and well-written. Katie, who is fighting her own personal demons, is a good companion and the two make a good team. Creel makes a good villain and though implausible, its still fun seeing him manipulate the world for his benefit. His plans to create a villain and make people afraid of him are interesting and do reflect the world today, where the smallest action can become known worldwide within a matter of hours because of the Internet.

As always, Baldacci keeps us turning the pages. Whether its Creel's plans, the PR firm's execution of the plans, Shaw's assignments or Shaw-Katie's pursuit of Creel once they understand the plan, the pace never lags. There are no twists or surprises and the plot is very straigtforward but there are no slow spots to damage the pace. In that aspect the book is like a good summer blockbuster - light on plot and heavy on action.

Wall-E or Jolie?

Looks like its a thumbs up from pretty much everyone for Pixar's latest, Wall-E. But all the reviews for Wanted, including the ones that don't recommend it, applaud its action, style and visual flair, aspects I really enjoy. And its got Jolie. Tough choice, huh?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Moondraam Pirai Remake

Tamil cinema is completely hero-centric and all our leading stars, in their eagerness to become the next Rajnikanth, have turned almost exclusively to ego-massaging masala films. There is no shortage of directors who pander to their egos and churn out formulaic films with larger-than-life heroes either. Another noticeable trend these days is remaking older films under the name of updating them for the present generation. The combination of these two phenomena could result in some truly scary scenarios. As an example, here are a few ways how Balu Mahendra's classic Moondraam Pirai might be altered in the hands of one of the actor-director combinations mentioned above.

- With a top hero, the film's name has to refer to him in some form. Poetically meaningful titles like Moondraam Pirai just won't cut it. So it'll be his name(lot of choices here) or refer to his character (Kaavalan?) or - in keeping the current fad - the name of some animal or bird that could be seen as being protective(Kangaroo?).

- The accident where the heroine loses her memory will be disposed off quickly. The song, in particular, is a definite no-no, instead of which the hero will get an intro song(the location doesn't matter though the brothel where he meets the heroine for the first time is an option). The song will repeat the movie's title apart from incorporating words like annan/thambi, thozhaa and thamizh.

- The neighbor paatti's character will be transformed into the hero's funny friend so it can be played by Vivek or Santhanam. They will make frequent jokes about the heroine's condition.

- The Poornam Viswanathan-Silk Smitha track will turn into the film's comedy track. The wife will be played by a buxom actress like Shakeela while the husband will be played by an old comedian like 'Venniradai' Moorthy. There will be atleast one scene near one of those water pumps with dialogs about pumping and pots and the track will be loaded with double entendres.

- The heroine will have momentary lapses into clarity so that she can dream of duets with our hero(maybe a Loosu Penne... remix). There will be a couple of fast numbers and a maximum of 1 slow number and atleast 1 of them will take place in a foreign location.

- The heroine's attempted molestation will be followed by a full-fledged fight with the usual punches, kicks and gravity-defying leaps. This is where the hero will utter punchlines like "Indha ponnu paithiyam. Unakku naan paakka poren vaithiyam" or "Indha ponnu loosu; ippo un bulb fuse-u".

- The hero's race to catch the heroine after she is cured will be a stylish run as he jumps over cars(instead of getting hit by them), leaps over ditches(instead of falling into them) and swings on the poles(instead of dashing into them).

- The heroine will remember the hero as soon as she sees him and brush off her parents' entreaties to jump off the running train(with his help ofcourse) and unite with him. Her dad will immediately summon his henchmen(who will arrive in Tata Sumos, clad in white shirt and veshti and armed with sticks that they twirl above their head) so our hero can fight with them for an action-packed climax.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yosemite Day Trip

My brother made a short detour to the Bay Area on the way back to India from the West Coast and since his last trip to Yosemite National Park ended well outside the park, I took him(along with his wife, my FIL and Kavya) on a daytrip to the park on Friday. Yosemite offers two great options for daytrips. One is Tioga Road that cuts across the park from west to east and the other is a shorter drive that hits the most well-known sights in the park. Considering we had three first-time visitors, we did option #2.

Entering the park from the southern entrance, we first drove to Glacier Point for views of the valley. From there we drove on Wawona Road, that goes to Yosemite Village and loops back. Our first stop on this road was Bridalveil Falls. Unlike last August, there was a lot of water and it looked gorgeous. The mist that hit us after we scrambled up the rocks to get real close to the base of the falls felt heavenly in the hot weather. After stopping along the side of the road for views of El Capitan, we stopped at Yosemite Falls and took the short walk to the Lower Falls. From there we headed back home via the Arch Rock Entrance.

A few photos from the trip can be seen here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kuselan photos

Thalaivar looks stunningly youthful and stylish in the new pics from Kuselan. A wonderful surprise, even considering his looks in Sivaji. P.Vasu has done atleast one thing right!

Monday, June 16, 2008


Recognize the actor(its the same actor portraying younger and old versions of the same Chinese man) in the above photos? Though Kamal went all the way to Hollywood to find a make-up man for Dasaavathaaram, he obviously didn't end up with the best in the business(probably - and understandably - due to budget constraints). Can't help wondering how those 10 characters, especially the foreign ones, would've looked if the man behind this actor's transformation had worked on Kamal...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dasaavathaaram - Full Review

Dasaavathaaram is proof that Kamalhassan has learnt his lessons well from films like Hey Ram! and Aalavandhaan. Like those films, it is ambitious and self-indulgent but those qualities are limited to behind-the-screen aspects like make-up and special effects. Onscreen, it has a very massy sensibility, revealed in its flimsy story, frenetic screenplay and overall light tone. It is erratically paced and a tad too long but Kamal's abundant talent, ambition and dedication to his craft pull it through.

The film starts off in the 12th century - in an episode that barely has any connection to the rest of the story - where a devout Vaishnavite Nambi(Kamalhassan) stands up to the King(Napolean), a Shiva devotee, and pays for it with his life. The scene then shifts to Washington D.C in December 2004, where Govindarajan(Kamalhassan), a scientist, goes on the run with a vial holding a deadly biological virus, after stealing it to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The vial and Govind, with an ex-CIA assassin Fletcher(Kamalhassan) behind him, end up in Chidambaram. It ends up inside an idol and he once again goes on the run, this time with a devout Brahmin girl Andal(Asin) in tow, to get the vial back.

The film's USP is ofcourse Kamal appearing in 10 roles - a first in world cinema. Seen purely from a performance perspective, he carries it off with aplomb. His body language, expressions, accents and voice modulation, whether in the "come here" finger-call of the American, the fast walk of the Japanese, the bemused expression of Bush or the Telugu-mixed Tamil spoken by the Telugu cop, are pitch-perfect. The models he's based these characters on have been researched and studied intently and it shows. It is chest-thumping for sure but since its backed by real talent, its easier to accept it. Other actors barely make an impression in what is essentially a one-man show. Asin shows that she has a great knack for comedy once again but her character's idiocy in not understanding the situation as the movie goes on works against her. Kamal favorites like Nagesh, Santhanabharathi, Napoleon and Vaiyapuri show up here too.

Kamal is so amazing in the 9 roles that if he had done these performances without an iota of make-up on, we could've still pinpointed exactly who he was playing. In fact, the make-up ends up being a distraction in many cases. Some faces in particular have too many layers and make his face look stiff, inexpressive and disproportionate to the rest of his body(though the screenplay is designed such that the roles that have the most makeup, like the American killing machine and the Japanese kung-fu expert, don't need to be expressive). Its telling that the best character is Brahma Naidu, one of the few roles with little make-up.

Unfortunately, that USP turns out to be the film's OSP - Only Selling Point. It's difficult to tell a story with 9 characters of equal importance and it shows. The main story, which is thin enough to deserve only 3 or 4 of those characters, veers off in many directions to provide placeholders for the remaining characters and give them adequate screen time. As a result the screenplay suffers since these extraneous characters ofcourse lead to extraneous segments where the movie begins to drag.

The film races along comfortably initially. A good plot with potential, a series of interesting locations, a very lively character in the Telugu cop and anticipation about Kamal's remaining roles ensure that the first half breezes by. The humor quotient is high with some of the jokes, like the wordplays with Rao, worthy of being penned by 'Crazy' Mohan. But the film begins to drag post-intermission as Kamal and Asin are stuck with the idol and the cracks, some of which were present earlier too, begin to show more clearly. The plot begins to spin its wheels; Kamal's 2 new characters add nothing of importance and seem extraneous; Asin's character gets increasingly screechy and irritating; the screenplay takes some unconvincing and cliched turns; and the humor seems forced as the plot gains seriousness.

The film's tone is also uneven as Kamal's serious, topical, message-oriented thoughts seem to be packaged rather uneasily within KSR's commercial, masala-ish screenplay. Apart from the science vs atheism question that is prevalent throughout(it is expressed more pointedly once Kamal, who is scientific-minded and Asin, who is religious, go on the run and start sparring), the movie touches upon chaos theory, the threat of biological weapons and America's short-sightedness. But the film's light tone never allows these to be taken seriously and they are lost amidst the chases, jokes and stunts.

Most of the film's budget was apparently spent on make-up since the special effects are disappointing. The effects in the segment set in the 12th century are particularly bad and the sense of awe that the film is going for is replaced by wonder at the cheesiness of the graphics in a film of this magnitude. Things do get better though as the film proceeds. Scenes involving multiple Kamals sharing the screen are quite convincing with a one-on-one fight between two of them being particularly good. The tsunami brings in special effects on a scale not seen before in Tamil cinema and is impressive considering that.

The average soundtrack isn't rescued by the picturization of the songs. Kallai Mattum... is picturized on a large scale and with the required passion but its effect is minimized by the aforementioned cheesy graphics. Oh Oh Sanam... looks colorful. Mukunda Mukunda... has some clever shadow images accompanying the lines about Lord Vishnu's 10 avathaarams. Mallika Sharawat does her bit(pun unintended) in Kaa Karuppanukkum.... As expected, Ulaga Naayagane... plays during the end credits with scenes of the arduous make-up process. But in keeping with the movie's tone, it also looks rather cheesy with KSR dancing in a group and Kamal's various roles shaking their legs along with the movie's crew.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Dasaavathaaram is proof that Kamalhassan has learnt his lessons well from films like Hey Ram! and Aalavandhaan. Like those films, it is ambitious and self-indulgent but those qualities are limited to behind-the-screen aspects like make-up and special effects. Onscreen, it has a very massy sensibility, revealed in its flimsy story, frenetic screenplay and overall light tone. It is erratically paced and a tad too long but Kamal's abundant talent, ambition and dedication to his craft pull it through.

[To be continued...]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2006 National Awards

The delay in announcing the 2005 National Awards led to the awards for 2006 being delayed too and they were finally announced 2 days ago. As happened last year, there were several news items about the awards but none that provided an easy-to-read list of the awards. So for your reading pleasure, here is the most complete, consolidated list of award-recipients that I could come up with.

Best picture - Pulijanmam
Best Director - Madhur Bhandarkar (Traffic Signal)
Best Actor - Soumitra Chatterjee (Podokkhep)
Best Actress - Priyamani (Paruthi Veeran)
Best Supporting Actor - Dilip Prabhavalkar (Lage Raho Munnabhai, Shevri)
Best Supporting Actress - Konkona Sen Sharma (Omkara)
Best Music Direction - Ashok Patki (Antarnad)
Best Lyrics - Swanand Kirkire (Lage Raho Munnabhai)
Best Cinematography - Goutam Ghose (Yatra)
Best Screenplay - Prakash Jha, Shridhar Raghavan and Manoj Tyagi (Lage Raho Munnabhai)
Best Art Direction - Rashid Rangrez (Waris Shah-Ishq Da Waris)
Best Costume Designer - Manjit Mann (Waris Shah-Ishq Da Waris)
Best Choreography - Madhu Samudra and Sajeev Samudra (Ratri Mazha)
Best Makeup - Anil Motiram Palande (Traffic Signal)
Best Child Artist - Divya Chahadkar (Antarnad)
Best Special Effects - EFX, Chennai (Krrish)
Best First Film of a director - Kabul Express (Kabir Khan), Ekantham, (Madhu Kaithapuram)
Best Popular Film providing Wholesome Entertainment - Lage Raho Munnabhai
Best Audiography - K J Singh and Subhash Sahoo (Omkara)
Best Editing - Raja Mohamed (Paruthi Veeran)
Best Male Playback Singer - Gurdas Mann (Waris Shah-Ishq Da Waris)
Best Female Playback Singer - Aarti Anklekar Tikekar (Antarnad)
Best Feature Film on National Integration - Kallarli Huvagi
Best Film on Family Welfare - Karutha Pakshikal (Malayalam), Faltu (Bengali)
Best Film on Other Social Issues - Hope (Telugu)
Best Children’s Film - Footpath (Kannada)
Best Film Critic - G P Ramachandran (Malayalam) and Rafique Baghdadi (English)
Best Animation Film - Kittu (Telugu)

Special Jury award - Omkara

Best Hindi Film - Khosla Ka Ghosla
Best Tamil Film - Veyyil
Best Kannada Film - Kaada Beladingalu
Best Malayalam Film - Drishtantham
Best Telugu Film - Kamli

It was slim pickings for Tamil cinema again but we atleast did end up with a biggie, thanks to Priyamani. But unlike last year, when all awards were scooped up by movies I'd not heard, let alone seen, the awards this time were won by 2 movies I've seen. Paruthi Veeran was released only in 2007 but looks like it was submitted for the awards in 2006. Thank God for that since it helped us get 2 awards. And Veyyil deservedly won the Award for Best Tamil Film.

With Paruthi Veeran out of the way, Tamil cinema's share of the 2007 National awards is probably not going to be much bigger. And though 2008 has been a really bad year so far, I'm hoping that Dasaavathaaram and Naan Kadavul make it a good year when its award time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Coming Soon - Dasaavathaaram

I look upon Kamal as one of the few people in Tamil cinema to genuinely strive to take it to the next level. And boy do we need him now! As has been mentioned many times so far, 2008 has been a dismal year for Tamil movies so far and I'm looking to Kamal and his Dasaavathaaram to pull Tamil cinema up from the doldrums. And this time, he has nine more Kamals to help him.

The most basic reason to look forward to Dasaavathaaram ofcourse is that its been awhile since we've seen Kamal on screen. His last film was 2006's Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and and we've certainly missed him. More importantly, its been a long time since he's given us what could be called a bad film. Whether he did comedies, thrillers or rural movies, they've all met certain standards. Even his commercial failures like Hey Ram! and Aalavandhaan (I like both of them, btw) failed more because of his ambition and penchant for experimentation than anything else. Here he teams up with Asin for the first time. The actress caught our eye in M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi before capturing our hearts in Ghajini. But she's since been stuck in thankless roles in hero-centric movies like Sivakasi and Majaa. She's currently acting with Aamir Khan in the Hindi Ghajini and with no other Tamil movies lined up, it might be a while before we see her again. So I'm hoping that she gets a role that exploits her talent atleast in Dasaavathaaram. With 10 Kamals and 2 Asins, there's not going to be room for many other actors in the film and the only other recognizable face in the trailer was Napolean, who is playing a King.

The film's USP is ofcourse the 10 roles Kamal is playing. Its the first time in world cinema that an actor is playing 10 roles in one film and that is something Tamil cinema can be proud of. Rumors have been flying around about the 10 characters he is portraying and an avid Kamal fan even managed to sift through the trailer painstakingly to spot the 10. Knowing the dedication and research that goes into every role Kamal plays, it should be quite an experience watching the nuances he brings to these 10 very different characters.

Considering the film's canvas and non-comedic tone, K.S.Ravikumar is not the first name one would think of as the director. But he's had a successful record with Kamal with all three of their teamings - Avvai Shanmugi, Panchathanthiram and Tenali - being hits and probably shares a good rapport with him. His success ratio in general also proves that he has a good idea about what works at the box-office and considering the film's huge budget, that was probably an important consideration. But this is definitely his biggest movie so far and I'm hoping he has done his part well.

Kamal brought in Himesh Reshammiyya from Bollywood to compose the film's music but the film's soundtrack has been widely reviled, atleast on the web. I confess to liking it more than the average reviewer though. One of the complaints was that Himesh's tunes and style were reminiscent of his Hindi tunes but maybe because I haven't listened with any concentration to any of his previous works in Hindi, I found the songs to be in a different style from usual Tamil songs and hence enjoyable. Kallai Mattum... is a serious number rendered suitably sombrely by Hariharan. Mukunda Mukunda... is a wonderfully pleasant, soothing number with the old lady's bit adding a humorous touch at the end. Ulaga Naayagane... is catchy and a rare self-praise song in a Kamal film. While the placement of the other songs is pretty clear, this is the one song I'm curious about where it would occur. Oh Oh Sanam... is rather ordinary while Kaa Karuppanukkum... is the weakest number in the album with the 9/11 reference being particularly distasteful.

After the usual delays and postponements associated with any big movie, Dasaavathaaram is finally hitting theaters this Friday. Let's hope it turns out to be worth the wait...

Monday, June 09, 2008

2 New Reviews

Reviews for Arasaangam and Pandi are now online @ bbreviews.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Next Action Hero?

When I wrote about action sequences in Tamil films, I mentioned my thought that the slot of a real action hero is open in Tamil cinema today. Fights are an undeniable and enjoyable part of our masala films but our fights have increasingly become over-the-top, implausible stunts that our heroes are shown to execute, rather clumsily, through graphics and/or wires. And the stunts that someone actually performs are usually done by the unsung heroes - the stunt doubles. So by a real action hero, I mean a hero who does his own stunts. And I don't mean the kind of lame leaps or jumps that our heroes actually do(usually in slo-mo) either. I mean real action that gets our pulses racing and our adrenaline flowing, like the Parkour sequences we saw in Casino Royale or District B13.

Reading about the audio launch of Surya - One Man Army made me feel like that was the slot Vijay Chiranjeevi is going for. He is the son of Stunt director Jaguar Thangam, who is producing and directing the film to launch his son. The function seems to have been well-attended('Jayam' Ravi, Satyaraj, Kushboo and Perarasu are some of the attendees mentioned) and the speeches of the guests seem to point to Vijay having some great stunt scenes. Ofcourse there's the tiny problem that Vijay looks more like one of the villain's henchman rather than the hero. I guess Surya's release will tell if his stunts are good enough to make us overlook that and accept him as a hero (I think Ajay Devgan is the son of a stunt director too and was criticized for his looks when he was introduced. Look where he is now!).

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blonde Ambition

That's Jeevan and new face Meghna in Kavithalaya's Krishna Leelai. Who knew Sivaji would lead to such horrors?!

Ada ada ada paduthudhu Style... :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bheja Fry / Race

Bheja Fry

Bheja Fry is sort of Anbe Sivam-lite; a film with the same basic storyline but less ambitious about its message. So we have a self-centred, self-absorbed man and a good-hearted, simple man who is initially a thorn in his side but ends up teaching him a few basic lessons about life and love. While Anbe Sivam painted its story on a much larger canvas with its atheist underpinnings and communist messages, Bheja Fry is more modest and takes the comedy route.

Rajat Kapoor plays a rich businessman who gets together with his rich businessman friends every Friday night for some fun. But the fun is at the expense of someone else since each of the friends is supposed to bring along someone who is expected to be the entertainment at the party. When Rajat hears about Vinay Pathak, a government servant who launches into a song given a chance, he calls him over, planning to take him along to the party. But Rajat hurts his back and so is stuck with Vinay at his house.

The film is very funny and keeps us chuckling quite consistently through its short running time. Considering the limited locations and characters, it comes up with enough interesting and innovative ideas to keep the story moving and make us laugh. The way things are mixed up between Sarika and Rajat's ex-girlfriend and the way the income tax segment is handled are especially clever. The themes are a bit adult but the film doesn't resort to slapstick or double entendre and keeps the humor quite clean.

The film belongs to Vinay Pathak. He brings the character to life and gives it the perfect mixture of naievete and goodness. He may drive Rajat up the wall but to us, his simplicity and innocence are quite endearing. Rajat looks the part of the rich businessman and does his part, which is to look increasingly exasperated as the movie proceeds. Sarika, as his wife, is classy and plays it straight. Milind Soman has a supporting role.


If I were to list things that I like in a movie, twists would come pretty close to the top of the list. I love it when a movie takes me by surprise with its plot developments. But Race definitely takes things too far. This is a film loaded with twists but the twists exhaust and confuse us and end up becoming laughable.

It doesn't look like the film's director duo started the film with a finished script in hand. In the name of twists, the film periodically throws up plot developments that simply negate everything that went on before. These developments are then explained away by giving us new information about the past that dramatically alters everything what we saw before. A good twist is based on things that were in plain sight and simply makes us look at them in a new perspective. But the twists here don't surprise us since they are based upon information that we had no chance of knowing. And after the second such twist, the movie turns into a joke as nothing we see can really be taken seriously.

But the twists do ensure that the film's pace never lags. The plot's convolutions keep us engaged and the film definitely can't be called boring. And though the twists themselves are overused, the way some of them are explained is pretty ingenious.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Jodi Porutham

Sify last week had a slideshow on Kamal's heroines over the years. This was one of those things that gave us no new information and was put together by Sify probably because it was a slow news day(with Dasaavathaaram again getting postponed - this time to June 13 - and other movies holding off to avoid clashing with the behemoth, we can probably expect more of these in the coming days). But it did give rise to a few nostalgic moments as it talked about some of Kamal's old movies and his legendary chemistry with his heroines. Sridevi was ofcourse listed first on the slideshow and with good reason. If ever a dictionary was compiled on Tamil cinema, we could just put a photo of Kamal and Sridevi next to the word 'chemistry' and be done with it. They made an evergreen pair. Good-looking and undeniably talented, the two romanced, fought, laughed and cried perfectly in sync. Even today, one just has to catch a few scenes in Guru, Vaazhve Maayam or Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu to understand what onscreen chemistry is all about.

Was thinking about more such pairs and realized such perfect pairs have been few and far between in Tamil cinema. Our stars have cut down on the number of movies they do and that naturally restricts the number of movies in which the same hero and heroine can be paired up with each other. And in our notoriously hero-centric industry, the selection of the heroine depends on the whims of the hero. With our heroes being superstitious(causing them to reject a heroine they were paired with in a flop) and insecure(which keeps them always on the lookout for the next PYT), it takes a lot for one heroine to be repeatedly cast with the same hero. And considering the heroine's miniscule role in most of our heroes' movies, the roles - and by extension, the actresses playing them - are indistinguishable from one other and create no special relationship with the heroes. So its no wonder that we haven't had any real long-lasting screen jodis for a while now.

After Kamal and Sridevi, I think we'd have to move quite a ways forward to find the next well-matched jodi in Tamil cinema. I think Karthik and Revathi fit the bill quite nicely. His enthusiasm and high energy worked well with her cuteness and confidence. Apart from being part of one of the best romances of all-time in Mouna Raagam, they also managed to infuse energy into duds like Idhaya Thaamarai and exhibited good chemisty in out-of-the-ordinary romances like Kizhakku Vaasal too.

After them, we'll have to fast-forward to the late 90s to hit upon the next great jodi in Surya and Jyothika. The boy-next-door Surya and the always-bubbly Jo looked perfectly matched on screen in all their outings right from Poovellaam Kaettuppaar though Kaakka Kaakka was probably the film that caused people to sit up and take notice of them as a great screen pair. Ofcourse, this jodi went on to become a jodi in real life too, making them quite the perfect pair.

Among current pairs, the Vijay-Trisha pairing looks like one that could go the distance. They have already done 4 movies together; they are both well-ensconced in their positions near or at the top of the heap; and they both have a few years left in Kollywood. They look good together and though neither of them has displayed any particular acting talent - and doesn't seem inclined to do so in the near future either - that hasn't stopped them from reaching the top so far. Among the stars of the next generation, I'm rooting for Arya and Pooja. He is already a pin-up boy while she looks pretty and seems to have overcome the flop jinx. They looked perfectly matched in both movies(Pattiyal and Oram Po) they've done so far and have a biggie coming up in Naan Kadavul, which, going by Bala's track record, should showcase the actors in both of them.

Here's to the next reel jodi of Tamil cinema...